Sometimes the gym can be as funny as a comedy club. It can also be as confusing as physics class. Here’s the crazy gym things we have seen.
People from all walks of life congregate to grunt, sweat and pick up metal for fun at the gym. Inevitably we’re going to see some crazy things. Everyone likes a little crazy, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your workout plan. It provides entertainment. And, even though there are some obvious things we would never copy, we’re better off knowing about them so that we do not make those same mistakes. So rather than doing something worthy of being on this list, learn from it so you can train hard and smart.
#1 This Will Totally Melt That Beer Belly
People will go to any extent to find the easiest way to do something. If just flipping around a weightlifting belt so the wide part is on your belly and it melts lower stomach fat, everyone would do it. The fact is a lot of people already do this and there are companies that manufacture workout specific corsets. Besides looking like the cast of “Pride and Prejudice” it only makes a huge sweat mark on your stomach. What was supposed to be concealed now looks like a black hole that only sucks in bewildered glances.
Sadly, spot reduction of body fat isn’t possible. Just because you sweat a ton from your armpits doesn’t mean they’re going to be the first place that loses fat.
Body fat location is unique to each person and varies between genders. Men tend to store most of their fat in the midsection while having leaner arms and legs. Women tend to store body fat in their lower body. This is caused by the dissimilarity in hormones. Just as we can’t choose where our fat is stored, we can’t choose where we lose it first.
#2 It’s Happy Hour At The Barbell
In the Caribbean it doesn’t matter if it’s 5 o’clock, the party is always popping. It doesn’t matter where on the resort either, including the fitness center. Most people just have a beer after their workout, but a select few college lads took advantage of the all-inclusive. That means slamming a few cocktails, mojitos, beers and when you’re feeling that indomitable what else is more fun than cleansing yourself at the gym.
When coordination and balance are impaired it just makes box jumps more challenging right?
Well, stacking two boxes on their highest side is just that. While the first attempt looked like something from WWE Raw, I’ll hand it to him, he did make the rest.
You’ve got to work hard to play hard but make sure you fuel yourself right. Alcohol is a toxin. As soon as it’s ingested your body will cease protein synthesis (building muscle) to break down the alcohol. It’s obvious that alcohol will impair your performance in the gym. But, be aware you won’t recover as swiftly or fully if you consume alcohol post-workout. It’s pretty intuitive, but drinking is a red light to your gains.
#3 Chasing The High
We’ve all heard about exercise endorphins. Recently, a guy I’ve never met stopped me for a high five then tells me how he did burpees, 5:45 am cycle, lifted for two hours then took circuit training. I arrived at the gym at 10 am for my modestly timed workout with no desire to chase my high for five backbreaking hours. The endorphin high is real, but working out that long is just counterproductive.
Exercise is proven to be addicting. But, the old adage of if a little is good, more is better doesn’t apply. You have to progressively build up to longer training sessions. There is always a limit to how long one can train effectively. Without synthetic enhancement, resistance-training sessions lasting over an hour have diminishing returns.
While some people chase the endorphin high, others just get high (on marijuana) then go to the gym. It’s hard to envision what’s always portrayed as eating pizza on the couch being the same drug people use to enhance their workout. They assure me it’s best when training for hypertrophy as the muscle contractions are “Out of this world, dude!”
This just sounds like a terrible idea. Stick to an appropriate top pre workoutpre workout snack or meal and a post-workout if you need an extra boost. A word of caution, see how much caffeine is in your pre-workout. Often caffeine levels are absurd, up to 300mg. That’s like guzzling almost four cups of coffee or four 8oz Red Bulls. Consider a stimulant free alternative to break your caffeine dependence and use it when you really need it.
#4 Old Men Never Stop
They never stop giving you advice and telling you how much more hardcore working out used to be. They also rarely change their “muscle building workout“. Often they even do the exact same exercises every time.
I recall one old man who came in his sweatshirt and sweatpants and would literally bench press and curl every day. Clearly he’s still on the pursuit of female attention and building those mirror muscles. There was another old man who began each workout the same way, with pull-ups.
You know what?
His lats and rear deltoids were huge!
What this teaches us is that we can train a muscle group a whole lot more often then we think. The trend of training a muscle once a week isn’t optimal. All elite lifters, from powerlifters to bodybuilders, train their muscles multiple times per week. It’ll take some getting used to, but so will carrying around all those gains.
#5 Even Freaks Build Peaks
It’s always astounding how some people build a physique when you see their training. Take circus performers. To the average gym goer, their routines are crazy. Get on the flying trapeze for an hour doing little sets every few minutes that last just seconds. That’s all these former Cirque du Soleil performers did. There was no gym training or lifting weights, but they were all jacked. Their backs were as wide as the deep cuts separating their muscles. If you were to see them you would automatically assume they’re either pro athletes or bodybuilders. They’re pros but in the most untraditional sense.
They jump around on bungees, do handstands, hold human flagpoles while kickboxing and have no idea how to use gym equipment. I actually taught one of the most muscular ones how to use a lat pulldown machine. He asked me if it would make his chest bigger. They are strong and their physiques show it, but ask them how much they bench press and they’d say, “What’s a chest workout?”
It’s not always the program that makes the best body. It’s the training consistency. By doing endless bodyweight exercises over the years they built god-like bodies. It’s just like the old men. They trained the same muscles and movements every time. It goes to show that frequency and consistency are two of the most important parts. If they can do this unintentionally, imagine what’s possible when you train specifically to build your body. It’s up to you what you make of it.
#6 Build A Thick Skin
People usually get holes in their shirts from banging weights together. Powerlifters get them on their back from squatting so much. What’s under these holes is a mark of dedication, calluses built from countless squats. It’s excessive and even crazy to most of us. On the flip side, powerlifters think it’s just as outrageous to use a pad on the bar.
They’re right! Ditch the pad. It’ll be uncomfortable the first few times, but contract your traps together to make your own pad. If it keeps being uncomfortable, that’s just more reason to hit deadlifts harder and build up the traps. Keeping the bar in direct contact with your upper back will only make you stronger in the long run. The pad raising your center of gravity may sound trivial to increasing your squat, but every little thing adds up. Even the enhanced grip you’ll have on the bar.
#7 You Need A Chain
The first time you hear a song you love, it’s really hard to not just listen to it on repeat regardless of the situation. There was a trainer who had the same approach to a new technique he’d just learned.
He’d use chains on every exercise possible. From biceps curls to just draping it around clients for extra weight, it didn’t matter. There were old ladies benching with just chains on the bar, jacked dudes squatting with plates and of course, the chains. No client could escape his shackles.
The point is that every exercise needs a purpose. When choosing a simple workout plan, exercise, rep range or rest interval, it should all help you reach your end goal. It’s not about what you like at that moment. Next time you exercise, analyze everything and determine if you’re training for a goal or just simply working out.
#8 Do A Two Step
Exercise should be fun. Some enjoy dancing, some cardio, and some lifting. Some of these combos can be effective, while others just foolish. Dancing on a Stairmaster is quite foolish. Walking up the stairs forwards, backwards, sideways or crisscross all can look impressive, but the results aren’t. We’ve all witnessed the overenthusiastic stepper trying to turn their cardio into an interpretive dance. Lifting a leg out and up while stepping doesn’t appear crazy, but rest assured it’s a crazy waste of time.
In exercise, there are many things that can’t immediately be dismissed as right or wrong. But, exercises are done a certain way because it’s safe, effective and timely. Use the exercise machines the way they’re intended for best results. If you’re just in it for the fun, have at it. Exercise should be enjoyable. Just don’t fool around all the time and expect a transformation. Hard work pays off and that’s fun too.
#9 Off To School!
Occasionally we find the Holy Grail of gains. You know, a new program that will surely take us to heights we only dreamed of. Sometimes it comes in many volumes and people end up lugging around what looks like their 600-page textbooks around the gym. It likely weighs more than what they’re intending to lift.
It’s important to follow the program as it was intended and to ensure every move is done right. That doesn’t mean bringing a small section of the Encyclopedia Britannica along. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding would be the exception.
The only way to follow a program and ensure progress is keeping a training log. There are plenty of phone apps for this. There’s also the classic notebook. Nothing will keep you more accountable and objective with your training than a record of it. Old notebooks also make for great coffee table books and nostalgic reading. The moral of the story is, keep a workout log. Just don’t bring every book on exercise with you to the gym.
These are the legendary words from Muhammad Ali talking about sit-ups. Cristiano Ronaldo was another who had a fixation with sit-ups. He did 3,000 per day. Yes, 3,000! It sounds crazy and it is.
First off, who has time to do that many sit-ups a day?
If each rep took one second and you did it all without rest it would take 50 minutes a day. By that point, your tailbone is eroded and your hip flexors are so tight you can’t even stand up straight.
While both built remarkable midsections, there are many more people who achieved superior abs in more sensible ways. If you can do 3,000 reps of an exercise a day it’s definitely too easy. That’s giving the same stimulus to your abs as your legs by jogging a 10k. It’s pretty clear that doesn’t build much muscle.
If an exercise is that easy to do, it’s time to make it harder. Add weight, change the cadence, change the angle or even just pick a tougher exercise. We train the rest of our body with fairly low reps. Your core should be no exemption to this, especially if training it for strength.
Those dedicated to fitness are often labeled as crazy and obsessive by the less dedicated. They don’t even have a clue just how crazy we really are in the gym. Always train smart and make sure you’re labeled as the good kind of crazy that serves as an inspiration to be healthy.
By Raphael Konforti, MS, CPT